Considering he was the most unpopular presidential candidate in US history, perhaps it’s not surprising that Donald Trump’s election has been greeted with violent protests not just in the US but across the world.
His campaign victory has been greeted with what can only be generously described as tepid enthusiasm from world leaders and when invited to the White House for the traditional meet and greet with the incumbent President Obama, Trump had to be hustled in through the back door.
Yes, Donald Trump has what appears to be an insurmountable public relations hurdle to overcome. During his campaign, he managed to offend Latinos, Muslims and women with his outspoken remarks with many pundits saying that Trump never really expected win. Indeed, there were widespread rumours that Trump was planning to launch “Trump TV” once the election was over.
So now that he’s headed for the White House, how does he manage to appeal to all Americans when more than half the American voting public voted for Hillary Clinton? He has started by tempering a number of his campaign promises. Rather than abolishing the Affordable Care Act which has provided health insurance for many of America’s poorest, he is now promising to merely reform it. After an appeal from President Obama, he has pledged to ensure that pre-existing conditions are covered and also that young people can be insured on their parents’ existing health insurance policies.
He has said that he has not given much consideration to indicting Hillary Clinton, contrary to one of his campaign promises and the much vaunted wall between the US and Mexico may just be a fence by the time it’s built.
He has also sought to give reassurance to the Republican party establishment by meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan and appointing the chairman of the Republican National Committee as his White House Chief of Staff.
While these moves may have given reassurance to some of the American electorate, Trump has a long way to go. He would do well to concentrate on the key issue that won him the campaign in the first place: promising to restore jobs to the American working class. It was blue collar workers who saw him ushered into the White House and truthfully, if Trump did nothing to change abortion laws or never got banning all Muslim immigrants, his fans wouldn’t care so long as he increased the American manufacturing base.
Bill Clinton signed the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992, ensuring free trade between Canada, Mexico and the US. Many working class Americans blame the trade pact for the erosion of America’s manufacturing base as Mexico’s wages are far below America’s. This means goods can be made more cheaply in Mexico and imported into America without any tariffs. Many in America’s so-called “red states” claim that NAFTA along with trade agreements with China are responsible for the closure of factories across the country. Even though unemployment is down, many of those employed in Middle America are working in lower paid jobs with fewer benefits.
Trump must tread a fine line to ensure he boosts American manufacturing without triggering a trade war with Mexico or especially with China. If he can do this, the rest won’t really matter. America’s economy will improve and the general malaise that has set in in America – one in which many Americans believe their country simply isn’t as great as it once was – will be reversed. Both Republicans and Democrats can get behind that and if Trump could succeed in uniting a bitterly divided country, he might surprise us all and be regarded as a truly great president.